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Black and white photograph of the winners of the 1917 Minnesota State Fair girls’ canning competition.

Canning champions at the 1917 Minnesota State Fair

Winners of the 1917 Minnesota State Fair girls’ canning competition.

Minnesota State Fair, 1917

Since its founding in 1859, the Minnesota State Fair had been an essential yearly tradition in the agricultural state. However, after the United States entered World War I in 1917, the fair took on an entirely new significance. Organizers reframed the event as a “Food Training Camp” that showed Minnesotans how to produce and conserve resources vital to the Allied war effort.

Black and white photograph of Thomas McMahon (far left), a farmer in Tara Township, loading hay onto a Great Northern Railway freight car, c.1910.

Thomas McMahon (far left), a farmer in Tara Township, loading hay onto a Great Northern Railway freight car

Thomas McMahon (far left), a farmer in Tara Township, loading hay onto a Great Northern Railway freight car, c.1910.

Black and white photograph of Father Anatole Oster (left) with farmers in Clontarf Township, c.1885.

Father Anatole Oster (left) with farmers in Clontarf Township

Father Anatole Oster (left) with farmers in Clontarf Township, c.1885.

Minnesota’s Margarine Battles, 1885–1975

During the late 1800s, dairy farmers in Minnesota and other states faced what they considered a serious and immediate threat to their livelihoods: the growing popularity of a butter substitute called oleomargarine. For nearly a century, the dairy industry and its legislative allies waged a series of campaigns to prohibit or limit the manufacture and sale of margarine. No state retained its anti-margarine laws longer than Minnesota.

Color poster printed by Frank P. Kaltenbach Company during World War I, c.1917.

Food Schedule Poster

Poster printed by Frank P. Kaltenbach Company during World War I, c.1917.

Black and white photograph of members of the Boys and Girls Club participating in a canning demonstration, 1920.

Boys and Girls Club canning demonstration

Members of the Boys and Girls Club participate in a canning demonstration, 1920.

Black and white photograph of 4-H Potato Club members Alvin Tofte, Andrew Tofte, and Hjalmar Tofte in 1918.

4-H Potato Club

4-H Potato Club members Alvin Tofte, Andrew Tofte, and Hjalmar Tofte,1918.

Black and white photograph of young bakers participating in a bread-making demonstration at the 1918 Minnesota State Fair.

Bread demonstration at the 1918 State Fair

Young bakers participate in a bread-making demonstration at the Minnesota State Fair, 1918.

University of Minnesota Agricultural Extension Service, 1917–1919

The University of Minnesota Agricultural Extension Service was the first state agency to respond to the urgent food conservation needs of World War I. Extension director Archie Dell (A. D.) Wilson and other staff worked throughout the war to provide guidance, information, persuasion, and recipes to farmers and homemakers across Minnesota. Their efforts helped preserve the food that would win the “war to end all wars.”

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